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📣 It's time for a national manufacturing plan

Manufacturing Mondays
Manufacturing Mondays
In our new levelling up work published last week on how to bridge the gap between policy and ambition, we make the case for a bigger manufacturing sector - specifically to expand it to 15% of UK GDP.
This can provide thousands of new jobs, greater levels of R&D spending, as well as boost wages across different areas of the UK - levelling up the very areas Government are targetting.
In fact, growing our manufacturing sector to 15% of UK GDP could add an additional £142bn worth of output to the UK economy!
But to do that, our sector needs stability, certainty and security. Yet for some time the current climate has lacked all three. Every other major economy, from Germany to the US, to Singapore, have a long-term national manufacturing plan - underlying the importance of an industrial base to the success of its wider economy.
The UK is the only country to not have one. If we are to not only tackle our regional inequality but also compete on a global stage, a national manufacturing plan is required.

Are manufacturers satisfied with 'levelling up' so far?
Make UK Campaigns
🚨 NEW 🚨

Our new research out today finds a significant number of manufacturers (30%) are not yet convinced levelling up has delivered any tangible benefit to their business.

With the feeling of disconnect between rhetoric and action worse the further you go from London.
Despite the numerous levelling up announcements, there remains a significant proportion (around a third) of manufacturers who are yet to be fully convinced that progress on the Government’s flagship policy is benefitting their businesses.
This sentiment is particularly pronounced further from London and the Southeast. The Northeast, Yorkshire & the Humber, East Anglia, and the Northwest were regions that were most dissatisfied with the Government’s current progress on levelling up. 
🍇 And unsurprisingly 30% of manufacturers said they are yet to see any benefits of levelling up for their businesses.
We have long argued until manufacturers can see real, tangible change on the doorstep of their business, the feeling will be that levelling up is not taking place. This becomes even more challenging the more that the term ‘levelling up’ is used across national Government, but no change is seen at a local Government level. There is a risk that the overuse of the phrase ‘Levelling Up’ will leave businesses in these regions feeling even more disengaged as they cannot see a quantifiable benefit.
Manufacturers 💕 Mayors
Manufacturers were also clear that levelling up meant local power for local leaders. When asked who should be tasked with overall responsibility on how to spend any allocated levelling up funding in their region, a quarter of manufacturers said they want City Regional Mayor to have that responsibility, followed closely by Local Councillors (22%).
✊ This emphasises the need for national Government to focus on how to empower local leaders, and their role in making levelling up a success.
Devolution will be central to not only achieving the ambitions of the levelling up agenda but more importantly, sustaining the importance of local solutions to local challenges in years ahead.
Make UK: Levelling up, bridging the gap between policy and ambition, April 2022
Make UK: Levelling up, bridging the gap between policy and ambition, April 2022
Awareness of initiatives remains low
The Government’s Levelling Up agenda crosscuts numerous policies from housing to skills to R&D, and as such, there are a range of different initiatives that have been launched under the umbrella term of levelling up. Whilst the broad-church of policy levers being used may be necessary, our research shows that many manufacturers had not heard of many of the initiatives announced, and only a handful had actually engaged with them.
Make UK: Levelling up, bridging the gap between policy and ambition, April 2022
Make UK: Levelling up, bridging the gap between policy and ambition, April 2022
Levelling up is about people and places
Despite there being regional variations on what manufacturers saw as a priority for their business there was a clear trend running throughout all regions – accessing people and skills.
👩‍🔧This suggests that levelling up may not necessarily only be about ‘place’ rather ‘people’ as well.
Ensuring people can access opportunities, jobs and training wherever they choose to go – supported by good transport connection, affordable housing and digital connectivity.
Productivity and overall prosperity are only one way to sustain strong local economies, however the way this is done matters, and the indication from some places is that boosting local economic growth alone is unlikely to drive up the living standards of people in these places. 
A national manufacturing plan
There is a clear role for the UK manufacturing sector in our collective effort to level up different parts of the UK. In its Levelling Up White Paper, the Government alludes to this bigger role for the UK manufacturing sector.
But how we increase the contribution of the UK manufacturing sector as a proportion of the wider economy is the key question.
We believe that a long-term economic strategy, which creates a conducive environment for manufacturers to invest and grow is critical – this should be developed through a cross-government National Manufacturing Plan. And this is supported by 62% of manufacturers too!
The Plan should be long-term, independent of political change, and driven by industry for industry. It should focus on identifying what the pillars of growth are, including:
  • supporting the creation of new jobs and securing skilled workforce
  • spurring on and sustaining investment across the sector
  • boosting innovation and ideas to drive the sector’s transformation
  • building a competitive, yet stable business environment
Furthermore, the Plan should provide strategic direction of how existing pots of funding can be better utilised. This will ensure that funding and support is targeting the places that need it the most, and where there is greatest value-add. 
Read more here
Make UK: Levelling up, bridging the gap between policy and ambition, April 2022
Make UK: Levelling up, bridging the gap between policy and ambition, April 2022
In the news
Levelling up ‘not showing benefits’ to manufacturers | Business | The Times
Regional mayors should be empowered and given responsibility for levelling up funds to rebalance UK economy - Politics.co.uk
We ❤️ policy and manufacturing, so let’s talk:
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Copy editor: Bhavina Bharkhada, Make UK Head of Policy & Campaigns
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Manufacturing Mondays
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We discuss the big issues impacting the UK manufacturing sector, and our policy ideas to overcome them.

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